monogamish-me, polyamorous-him

LoveBunny

Member
I haven't been here for some time. I was healing from a very bad relationship, then I explored a strictly monogamous relationship for a good 8 months until she dumped me for another woman :rolleyes:

Lately, I've felt more monogam-ish or polyflexible rather than polyamorous. I also think, after my last 2 serious relationships being with women, that I'm further on the lesbian side of the spectrum than I'd realized.

But then, 6 months ago, I met Sunny, a man who presented himself as poly but who said he "could" do monogamy as well. I developed deep feelings for him. This guy has a lot of feminine energy, and I crave him like I do women, we always have fun together, we have similar values and like to do similar things. The sex is fantastic. It has, up until now, been one of the most peaceful, happy, connected, sexy relationships I've had.

We met right before covid started, so we went through lockdown together and had all this time of not dating anyone else. We agreed a pandemic wasn't a good time for relationship negotiations, because of course we weren't out meeting people and took down our dating profiles. He has a lot of daddy dom energy, and I've let him do a lot of the leading in this relationship. At some point, we did define the relationship, deciding we were boyfriend/girlfriend and he used the word "primary." This month was our 6 month anniversary so we took a 5-day roadtrip together to visit some state parks and had such fun. I really started feeling we are a couple, told my parents about him, posted with him on social media, etc.. I could see him as a life partner.

A few days ago, he informed me that someone he'd met before me, but the timing wasn't right, has resurfaced in his life, and they've been talking, it's getting serious. And I am shocked at the agony this is creating in me. Of course, I understood we'd probably explore some form of non-monogamy eventually, but we had a miscommunication. He'd told me he wasn't interested in "full-on poly," so I thought he wanted to maybe explore casual sex outside of his relationship, or to swing a little or something. He's since corrected me, no, he wants a secondary, he thought full-on poly meant everybody sleeps/lives together.

This guy is not a reader of books or forums so his experience/knowledge of poly comes through talking to friends of his who have made it work, plus a couple of casual multiple relationships. He made what I feel is a rookie mistake basically just telling me he's going to date someone else, no asking if I was ready to open up the relationship, with someone already on deck. He is "not asking my permission," because this is what he "needs," and if I don't accept this, I don't accept him for who he is.

I've been where he is, asking for what he's asking for. I get it. He's been fighting his way out of serial monogamy, exploring his sexuality, and learning to be independent after 2 monogamous marriages, and doesn't want to hit pause or stop for me. He's where I was 6 years ago when I informed by now-ex-husband I'd met a woman and I needed to open the relationship to be with her NOW.

I am still deep in NRE with him and just want to spend all my spare time with him and only him. To learn he wants to spend time with someone else while we're still in the honeymoon phase is hard to swallow. The way he presented this with no asking me how I feel or what I want really stung. I hate that I seem to be grieving the loss of our alone-together period, and he isn't.

We've been talking for a couple of days now, and to be honest, I just don't know if I want to do all the processing and emotional work involved in a poly relationship at this time. It's been a crazy enough year as it is with all going on in the world. Plus I finalized my divorce this year, am starting a new business, adopted a long-living pet. None of this has to do with him, of course. But I'm feeling overwhelmed by adding on POLY.

He's convinced, despite not having much poly experience except in casual relationships, that he'll be great at this, that I'll never notice his attention wavering because of another relationship. I've done many poly and open relationship configurations, and I think he's being naive and overconfident. I already have to share him with his other responsibilities and emotional ties: a business he owns, 2 kids who live with his 1st wife, plus a 2nd wife from whom he is separated but not yet legally divorced. I have been ok with the amount of time we spend together (average 3 nights a week) but I was also hoping we were soon to grow into spending more time together, maybe eventually move in together. He says that's still possible, he could see us living together too, but I'm not sure our visions of what that looks like match up. Of course, all this trying to look far into the future might not even be helpful. He thinks it isn't.

I feel remorse for any way in which I might have mislead him. I told him I was open to poly when we first started dating. And I meant it, but now faced with the reality of sharing him, I'm shutting down. My pessimism (based on past poly relationships) and insecurity seem to be getting the best of me.

So now, I'm faced with decisions. Stay or go. Date others or don't. He said he's open to making some rules to make me more comfortable. We talked about maybe no women in his bed, he can fuck them somewhere else. He hates the idea of wearing a condom to keep me safe from STDs (he's had a vasectomy.) Maybe we pick something that remains just between us--anal? Bondage? Ugh, I used to hate it when my ex tried to put rules on my relationships. But now I totally get it. I'm sick at the thought of him doing those things with other women! But whoever sticks to rules in the heat of NRE? Plus, we haven't built up years of trust for me to rely on.

I'm struggling to make sense of my intense feelings that I name shame, jealousy, and abandonment. My HEAD understands this has nothing to do with me. That I can't chose a poly guy then get upset when he IS poly. I'm in danger of making the abandonment real if I can't get to a happy, safe place with this. I seem to be resisting doing the work. Or perhaps we're just in two different places right now.

Thoughts?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I'm sorry you struggle.

That I can't chose a poly guy then get upset when he IS poly.

Why not? You don't give yourself permission to feel upset when you chose a poly guy you thought was compatible for your style poly and then discover he might not be because he does some other style? Why aren't you allowed to be upset? Why so hard on you for being human and having some feelings?

I'm struggling to make sense of my intense feelings that I name shame, jealousy, and abandonment. My HEAD understands this has nothing to do with me. That I can't chose a poly guy then get upset when he IS poly. I'm in danger of making the abandonment real if I can't get to a happy, safe place with this. I seem to be resisting doing the work. Or perhaps we're just in two different places right now.

TBH? This stuff starts happening around 6 mos in. Coming off the NRE cloud and hitting reality. It isn't always easy and can feel like someone poured a bucket of cold water on you though. You have my sympathies.

That said? I think you are taking this personally when you don't have to be. It's 6 mos in. That's still really new and still getting to know each other.

You seem to recognize that dating during pandemic can put a weird spin on things... it's not like dating in the normal time. It may have given a more "intense" feeling or vibe for you than otherwise would happen in non-pandemic time.

Meanwhile some normal things will still happen as a relationship unfolds pandemic or not. Love may be infinite, but time, energy, money, and other resources are not. I think it's fair to assess where your time, energy, other things are. Like the time needed for final healing from your divorce, your business, your new pet.

You also discovered that you both said "poly" but actually mean different things. To American me? "Get a lift" is get a ride, taxi, Uber. To my British mom, it's talking about elevators. People who date have to "calibrate" what words mean to them. It's part of the "getting to know you" process.

You have discovered that he's a newbie polyamorist who is overconfident about his skills when he is actually bungly with his communication style.

You may also be discovering that what was initially compatible is not deeply compatible. Along with processing that going through the experience gives you deeper understanding of what your previous partners may have been going through when the shoe was on the other foot.

A lot going on.

Bottom line?

Now that you have a clearer idea of what he want and what he is seeking? If it doesn't line up with what you want or are seeking? Could part on good terms and skip the whole shebang of restructuring the relationship. He seems to want a primary-secondary model kinda of thing and you sound like you don't.

Rather than take it too personally could chalk it up as
  • "Close, but nope."
  • "Maybe right person, but wrong time of life"
  • "Wrong person, wrong time"
  • "Comet relationship"
  • "I actually don't feel like dealing in poly newbies right now"
or whatever it is for you.

But don't bend yourself into pretzels to keep going as if by force if you heart just isn't in this any more.

It's a bummer to come to that if you were enjoying the NRE honeymoon time though. I get that. It may have been your bight spot while finishing up divorce bummer stuff and now it might be a bummer thing too.

Galagirl
 

TXretired

Member
I am sorry that you are going through this. GG has always had super input. I like to use “operational definition” for the words we use. It takes work on everyone’s part. There are just too many ways to say the same thing. Keep yourself solid. Have faith in your thoughts and ideals. First. Then have conversation.

I wish you the best.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hello LoveBunny,

It sounds like you are really struggling with this style of Sunny's polyness hitting you out of left field. Maybe you are also surprised to discover that you are perhaps not as poly as you thought you were. You now need to decide whether to break up with Sunny (hopefully an amicable breakup), and if you decide to stay with him, do you start dating other people (polyamorously). I do not think this would be a good time to break up with Sunny, because you are still in the midst of the NRE stage, and breaking up would hurt extra hard. But as soon as the NRE wears off, it might be wise to go ahead and cut your losses. Since you are kind of in limbo, and are just now discovering that you are maybe more monogamous than you thought you were, I would hold off on dating others polyamorously. At least until that inner turmoil settles down, and you can get a clear look at yourself and at what you want. Right now things are up in the air.

It does sound like Sunny is a lot more serious about poly than he led you to believe, like he doesn't just want casual relationships, he wants a full-on secondary. And maybe you are even feeling a little stabbed in the back, like he told you one thing and then did another, even if that was not his intention. Unnoticed gaps in communication can lead to bad things, and this is one of those instances. Also you are experiencing that he is perhaps not as good/experienced at poly as he thinks he is. You thought he was going to spend more time with you; now it looks like he is going to spend less (in spite of his optimistic view to the contrary). This is not what you wanted, it is not what you expected. It is not what you understood from what he told you. So a number of bad things are happening at the same time, this is like the perfect storm. I'm sorry this is happening to you, I hope somehow you can work this out.

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

LoveBunny

Member
@GalaGirl "Coming off the NRE cloud and hitting reality. It isn't always easy and can feel like someone poured a bucket of cold water on you though."

Yes, that is exactly what it feels like. Last night I dreamed of bombs going off killing dogs, which of course are symbolic of devotion, loyalty, etc.. I really do wonder if things would have progressed differently between us if it weren't for the pandemic/lockdown. We had so much fun, just went out on his boat every day, making love in the sea, no distractions from the world. Thank you for your sympathy and advice on possible paths forward.

"But don't bend yourself into pretzels to keep going as if by force if you heart just isn't in this any more"

Exactly. It wouldn't be fair to either of us. The only way I could see dating being satisfying for me is if I focused on women, and I remember how hard it was to find women willing to date a woman who has a man in the picture. Could turn out to be a big old exercise in frustration.

@TXretired "Have faith in your thoughts and ideals."

Thank you for that. It's so hard to even figure out what those are right now when I'm still in flightorfight over this. I'm better than a few days ago, but still too addled to make a decision. My body seems to think I'm being dumped, though Sunny assures me that is NOT what is happening at all. He feels as if this will only bring us closer, now that he'll feel accepted totally. I get what he's saying, but I keep focusing on the loss of his time and energy. Having trouble reframing it at a bonus for me.

@kdt26417 "Since you are kind of in limbo, and are just now discovering that you are maybe more monogamous than you thought you were, I would hold off on dating others polyamorously. At least until that inner turmoil settles down, and you can get a clear look at yourself and at what you want"

I've been thinking similarly. Would I just be playing at poly, and really deep down inside if someone offered me more time and attention, I'd leave Sunny? A sure set-up for heartbreak and drama. I think what you said about maybe sticking with him until the NRE wears off is an interesting point. I'm hoping my negative feelings right now ARE the NRE wearing off and I'm starting to see him as is, what he can and cannot offer.

I'm worried he's glossing over all the internal work he'd have to do to make this successful, he's all "It'll be fine, you won't miss out on anything, you'll see." I've named him Sunny for a reason. He is just like that, eternally optimistic, easily happy and I love that. I am neither of those things. He just assured me he's thinking and reading and talking to his poly people, so perhaps he'll prove me wrong. Thank you for the great advice and sympathy.

I'm struggling to strike a balance between not hiding how I'm feeling, but not being a totally needy mess either. He tries to keep our conversations light, I keep tossing him back down to earth. I want him to understand what's at stake here, but I also don't want him to feel like I'm trying to guilt or manipulate him. I don't want him to forget that I can be really fun and great when I feel safe and cared for.
 

SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
I think you know that he has every intention of having other relationships and always did have. You are trying to think of ways to guilt him into giving those up, that's what you mean by "I want him to understand what is at stake". You mean that you want him to know that you're essentially giving him an ultimatum to stop being the person you met, or he could lose you.

A lot of people do not need to do a lot of internal work to make everyone okay if everyone is happy and secure in what they signed up to. You're making excuses because you're so terrified of him having other loves that you're trying to make out that he won't be able to do it right rather than you won't be able to accept the reality of having a poly partner.

You need to work on YOU. It is YOU who got with a poly person. YOU have the problem accepting him for who he is. YOU need to do the internal work.

I'd start by apologizing to him for hinting otherwise.
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
I just don't know if I want to do all the processing and emotional work involved in a poly relationship at this time..... I'm feeling overwhelmed by adding on POLY.
When a poly relationship is what you want and you are with a compatible partner, the communication involved feels fulfilling, nourishing. When you are consistently accommodating your partner in order to keep the relationship, the communication involved feels like overwhelming emotional work. "Poly" is not overwhelming emotional work, compromising yourself in order to keep someone in your life is overwhelming emotional work.
 

LoveBunny

Member
@SEASONEDpolyAgain "You are trying to think of ways to guilt him into giving those up, that's what you mean by "I want him to understand what is at stake".

How presumptuous and obnoxious to think you know my inner motivations. I already told him I do not want him to stop talking to new person. But thank you for making me clarify the following point to myself:

What's at stake: The spontaneity between us because now things will have to be more scheduled. The flow of energy between us now that his time and attention will be divided. The fact that we're fluid bonded but now I won't feel safe doing that. Fact. This changes the dynamic of our relationship, not necessarily for the better. When things do fall apart in a poly relationship, it's hard to find support from friends/family who don't understand.

I've apologized for unintentionally misleading him, but can't do much about feelings I didn't know I'd have. Luckily, he tells me we are a couple, a team. If he were to scream at me as that one does :rolleyes: "YOU have the problem, YOU fix it" with no support, only accusations, screw that.

@FallenAngelina That all sounds lovely. I've been in poly or open relationships, with some forays into monogamy, for nearly 30 years now. I've been on the side of wanting it, not wanting it, all partners on board, one partner not on board.... I've been through poly hell before, despite everyone involved's best intentions. Sometimes the problem was me, sometimes it was the partners I've chosen, sometimes it fizzled, sometimes it imploded. I am aware I'm letting past bad experiences make me pessimistic. Thank you for your perspective. If I do this I want it to be a "hell yes."
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
If you decide to continue... there's stuff to sort. I don't know if it helps you any but these pop out to me.

Clearing up communication confusion

A) Relationship Model.​
At some point you clarified that you were BF/GF, and you seem to have assumed it was "mostly Closed now, maybe some casual sex on the side later" and he thought it was "Still open, just primary/seconday model with you being my primary"​
B) Acceptance.​
He is "not asking my permission," because this is what he "needs," and if I don't accept this, I don't accept him for who he is.
It is possible for you to accept him for who he is AND decide you don't want to keep going with this relationship because his style of poly doesn't match yours.​
You don't articulate it directly but I get the impression YOU want to be accepted where YOU are back. You were enjoying the NRE honeymoon time, and the way he let you know he wanted to date this other lady without asking how how you feel about how/when to end the honeymoon time stung for you. As a result his being all confident about other aspects of polyshipping when he's a newbie -- you worry about him not seeing/being underprepared and you getting stung again.​
C) Reality Check. His personality is such that he's "Sunny" all the time. Due to your own past poly experiences, you think he's being overconfident in his hinge skills. You have also experienced bungly communication with him. (See above)​
D) Safer Sex practices​
You want condoms worn with you/others. He hates the idea of wearing a condom to keep himself/you/other partners safe from STDs. He likes going bareback. You aren't into bareback if he's going to have other partners. This may be a deal breaker because you don't love the idea of saving one thing for just you (ex: anal) that would be bareback. You don't know him long enough to have built that trust and you think in the heat of the moment, he might anal sex with someone else and just skip telling you, putting you at risk.​
E) Personalities.​
  • You love that he is "Sunny" but you also worry he's not realistic because he's a poly newbie.
  • You have legitimate needs, but worry about coming across as "needy" and "unfun" or something. You also worry about being pessimistic.
F) Time.​
He's super busy already with work, kids, etc. You have your own obligations/time concerns as you complete divorce, deal with your new business and new pet.​
More partners = more schedules and less space for "spontaneous" which you value.​
To me it sounds like this relationship was something of an "easy going oasis" for you. Now it's becoming a LOT of work with someone who might not be as compatible as you first thought.

I've been thinking similarly. Would I just be playing at poly, and really deep down inside if someone offered me more time and attention, I'd leave Sunny? A sure set-up for heartbreak and drama. I think what you said about maybe sticking with him until the NRE wears off is an interesting point. I'm hoping my negative feelings right now ARE the NRE wearing off and I'm starting to see him as is, what he can and cannot offer.

FWIW, I think the NRE glasses are coming off. And you find he's not offering you things you want in your polyships. I could be wrong since you are still working things out in your head... but my impression? It seems like you want (if you are going to do primary-secondary) a primary partner who shares your values more.
  • You want and value safer sex practices. He won't wear condoms.
  • You want and value clearer communication. He doesn't have that yet.
  • You want and value "realistic" -- he's more "sunny" and "poly newbie"
This person? Might be ok for a secondary but maybe doesn't make the cut for what you want in a primary. (What ARE your expectations of a secondary partner?) Because "working things out" could end up as...
  • You break up completely.
  • You change the model to you are both each other's secondary partner.
  • Maybe he's a FWB, or tertiary partner or something else.
I'm worried he's glossing over all the internal work he'd have to do to make this successful, he's all "It'll be fine, you won't miss out on anything, you'll see."

Not just internal work, but external work with you so you can feel comfortable participating in his poly network. Sounds like you want to hear his plan for how to handle things. Not necessarily down to the last detail, but a rough general idea plan.

He's sounds more like "I'll worry about it when I get there" type. Neither style is right or wrong, but it does make for personalities being deeply compatible or not.

In an effort to meet you part way, he says he's started reading and talking to poly people.

I've named him Sunny for a reason. He is just like that, eternally optimistic, easily happy and I love that. I am neither of those things. He just assured me he's thinking and reading and talking to his poly people, so perhaps he'll prove me wrong.

It will work or not. Time will tell if you choose to stay here for now.

I'm struggling to strike a balance between not hiding how I'm feeling, but not being a totally needy mess either. He tries to keep our conversations light, I keep tossing him back down to earth. I want him to understand what's at stake here, but I also don't want him to feel like I'm trying to guilt or manipulate him. I don't want him to forget that I can be really fun and great when I feel safe and cared for.

I think you have personal work to do yourself. Not all the stuff is your responsibilitiy or your stuff to manage.

If the above was slowed down?

I'm struggling to strike a balance between not hiding how I'm feeling, but not being a totally needy mess either.

So don't hide how you feel. And accept that sometimes feelings are gonna be big and end up in spilling all the marbles in some crying jag or whatever. So what? It's emotional honesty. You don't always have to hold it in.

He tries to keep our conversations light, I keep tossing him back down to earth.

Could ask him about that. Because you want to deal in practical realities. You see he wants to keep THIS conversation light. So... when is the appointment for having the practical talk?

Acceptance works both ways. And meeting needs works both ways if you are trying to renegotiate relationship models again.

Mixed messages suck. If you are maybe feeling frustrated when he says "we are a couple a team" (his talk) but then won't have serious conversation times with you (his actions)? That sounds reasonable to me. I'd be frustrated too. And that isn't being "too needy."

I want him to understand what's at stake here.

So tell him. You will miss spontaneity and things having to be more scheduled.

In the new model, how will spontaneous moments fit? How will it be balanced with the need for more scheduling?

I also don't want him to feel like I'm trying to guilt or manipulate him.

What he thinks or feels? Not your job.

I think you worry too much about the other person thinking/feeling X, so then you censor/restrict your own self expression too much. (Ex: I don't want to be too needy so I don't say things)

I don't want him to forget that I can be really fun and great when I feel safe and cared for.

I guess you don't feel esp safe or esp cared for right now.

Have you articulated that to yourself well? To him? You may have your own work to do with clearer communication.

And if you ARE being clear about that, and he's waving it away like "Don't worry, it will be fine" ...

Well... that's another incompatibility then.

Galagirl
 
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SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
"The spontaneity between us because now things will have to be more scheduled. The flow of energy between us now that his time and attention will be divided. The fact that we're fluid bonded but now I won't feel safe doing that. Fact. This changes the dynamic of our relationship, not necessarily for the better."

Most people know that time will be shared between more than one person and that's what they want. There gets a point where reinforcing the consequences of an action is just trying to coerce the decision maker.

Also, you phrase it as he doesn't hates the idea of wearing a condom to keep you safe. That's a very loaded way to put it. The truth is likely that he hates wearing condoms, prioritizes risk of pregnancy over risk of STDs as a result, and is somewhere between resentful and dubious about how they will affect you. For example, he could be very vigilant about testing standards instead and reduce his likelihood of getting an STD quite substantially.
 

LoveBunny

Member
@GalaGirl "Sounds like you want to hear his plan for how to handle things. Not necessarily down to the last detail, but a rough general idea plan."
You are absolutely right about that, and also: "You want and value clearer communication. He doesn't have that yet. You want and value "realistic" -- he's more "sunny" and "poly newbie."
You understand exactly right. I also agree very much with what you said about this relationship having been an easy oasis for me, and now suddenly it's work.

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.

Yesterday was Sunny and my 3rd and most productive day in a row of talking this over, and I am feeling much better about giving this a chance, despite a rocky start. He seems to realize he is not going to be able to just fly by the seat of his pants, and I do see him actually mapping out a gameplan, starting with a code of conduct for himself. I actually really dig his approach. This way I don't have to come up with lots of rules that might frustrate everyone involved, though we did come up with a couple of solid agreements. The condom thing is still on the table, but I MIGHT be able to let that one go with ample testing, trust in his other partner, etc..

I wanted to focus on ways we can grow closer and go deeper, so we will not just let our relationship plateau or stagnate while he puts time and energy into someone else. I can really feel now that he is envisioning a future with me, really does plan on us someday moving in together, traveling a lot together, becoming a family, and that was reassuring. At this time, I want to be on the relationship escalator with him, and he seems to want the same.

He told me if he starts to feel like it's too much, he'll go back to just us. I'm not going to hold him to that, especially if he actually catches feelings for another partner. But I'm solid in my belief that I will walk away if I'm unhappy. At this time, I'm going to try to chill out and let him show me if he can walk his talk, and I'm going to do my best to do the same.

I'm still unsure if I want to date or not. I know I tend to get very caught up emotionally in one person at a time, not sure I have the emotional bandwidth while I'm so gaga over Sunny to really get excited about anyone new. Plus, if I do realize that this primary/secondary polyamory isn't for me, I won't be in a mess with more than one partner. It's so hard to resist the urge to try to make things "even steven" though.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Glad to hear things are going better, I'm sure you will work out what all your wants and needs are, and how they relate to your evolving relationship.
 
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